MixedThe Wall Street JournalIf Then continues Ms. Lepore’s streak of obscure yet vivid stories...that reveal some aspect of American history. But it also has the moral purpose of These Truths ... After reading a catalog of Simulmatics’s disappointments, [Lepore\'s] indictment feels hyperbolic. And Ms. Lepore’s description of Simulmatics as \'Cold War America’s Cambridge Analytica\' is...gaudy hucksterism. The prediction machines that Ms. Lepore disdains also have their uses, such as finding a commercial audience for Harvard historians. They allow individuals to assemble into communities, where they can support each other and do good rather than simply yell across the barricades. The history of data science may not be pretty, but it isn’t entirely predictive either.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIt is an extraordinary and rather pathetic story, most of which plays out on the seedy edges of the financial world. In Flash Crash, Liam Vaughan, a journalist with Bloomberg in London, tells it in vivid detail ... Navinder Sarao was no angel. But the real lesson from Mr. Vaughan’s well-reported book is that far too much energy goes into prosecuting such small fry. The real bandits are still out there, cloaked in political cover and respectability yet rigging the markets at scale.
MixedEvening Standard (UK)Hillary’s written voice is flat, and if you’ve slogged through her memoirs, you might hesitate before reading a pastiche. But by tilting history on its side, Sittenfeld makes Hillary seem a fresh character and remarkably sympathetic.
RaveFinancial Times (UK)... thoroughly enjoyable ... There is plenty of gossip, sleaze and desperation for Gopnik to feast on, and even some art. But the real pleasure of the book is how he tracks Warhol’s constant dance between art and commerce, between Warhol’s often daffy creations and his scrupulous score-keeping when it came to business and his public image ... By the time you’re through with more than 800 pages, it’s the remarkable 20th-century life that lingers, not so much the work.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalTo reframe our understanding of Machiavelli, Mr. Boucheron asks, Who was he writing for? If you believe his audience was tyrants, then his negative reputation is justified. But what if he was writing for the rest of us? If The Prince was meant to help ordinary people understand what their leaders were up to, then it is not a handbook for the power-crazed but a means of stopping them, or at least catching them in the act ... He is still keenly read nearly 500 years after his death, Mr. Boucheron writes, because unlike the many dreamers and idealists in his field, Machiavelli offers useful advice for the darkest times. \'If we’re reading him today,\' the author concludes, \'it means we should be worried. He’s back: wake up.\'
Robert A. Caro
PositiveThe Evening Standard (UK)Anyone trying to write in any form will devour it ... History, [Caro] believes, should use the same literary tricks and devices you find in great novels and poetry. \'Rhythm matters,\' he writes. \'Mood matters. Sense of place matters.\' Working, blessedly short by Caro’s usual standards, tells you how the best of it gets done.
Stanley McChrystal, with Jeff Eggers and Jason Mangone
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalFrance’s President Mitterrand said of [Margaret] Thatcher she had the \'eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe.\' Gen. McChrystal’s pen portraits are rather dry by comparison, but his honesty about the variety of leadership makes his book intellectually rewarding, and never trite.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Pedder tracked Mr. Macron through his time as minister of economy and finance all the way to the Élysée Palace, watching him apply his rare intellect and enormous energy to the challenge of achieving power and now modernizing France. He emerges from her account as a most unusual character, but perhaps the man his country needs ... Ms. Pedder has written a terrific first draft of a history with significance far beyond the borders of France.
Doris Kearns Goodwin
PanThe Wall Street JournalWith Leadership in Turbulent Times, Doris Kearns Goodwin clearly has her eye on the Christmas present for grandpa market. It is a pantomime horse of a book. The front end shows her in full cable-TV-presidential-historian mode, offering a readable set of potted histories of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. The back end is a rather labored effort to extract leadership lessons from their careers ... Ms. Goodwin...separates her leaders into types ... You could shuffle these labels around, from one president to another, and they would make just as much sense ... Ms. Goodwin can always be trusted to tell a rattling story, filled with detail, character and incident. If only she hadn’t felt compelled to intersperse her stories with headings ripped from the Harvard Business Review.
PositiveWall Street Journal\'Simply put,\' he writes, \'the world is moving from products to services. Subscriptions are exploding because billions of digital customers are increasingly favoring access over ownership, but most companies are still built to sell products\' ... Subscription businesses, which derive important information from their customers’ behavior in real time, are better at fast adaptation than companies dependent on their in-store employees for feedback ... For companies to move to full subscription models, Mr. Tzuo says, they will have to blow up their organization silos. \'Product cultures are built around thinking and organizing like assembly lines: stay in your lane, do your job, then pass it on. . . . Subscription cultures are about making sure your customer continues to succeed with your service over time, and translating that ongoing value into revenue.\'
In other words, subscription models demand constant adaptation, in everything from product and service updates to fluid accounting, marketing and finance. That degree of change is dramatic and difficult, Mr. Tzuo notes. But changing customer expectations demand it, and if you don’t shift now, he writes, \'chances are that in a few years you might not have any business left to shift.\'
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Sernovitz’s book is structured as a series of essays rather than built around a single propulsive narrative. This works especially well as he tiptoes through the arguments linking our consumption of fossil fuels to climate change. He is keen to avoid the theological ravings he hears on both sides ... It is refreshing to have such contentious issues sieved through Mr. Sernovitz’s inquisitive mind, balancing the most pessimistic and optimistic visions of change.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal“Mr. Weiner is a prober and questioner, a big-hearted humanist who will always take a colorful, contradictory reality over some unfounded certainty...The Geography of Genius is useful less for any lessons about how to cultivate genius than for its suggestion that genius flowers in those areas a society considers most important.